Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your help in circumventing the rules. That is very kind and much appreciated.
They are here for a cure and for more funding so we can get the cure for juvenile diabetes. This is extremely important and we welcome their presence on Parliament Hill. This is a sign of the kinds of investments that need to be made, but they are, sadly, not being made through the fall economic update.
There are a number of things in the update that I think we can all support. First is the NDP drive for years to take the interest off apprenticeship and student loans. The NDP has pushed on this for years. Members will recall that when COVID hit back in 2020, on March 13 I was pleased to rise in the parliamentary press gallery to push the government, along with my NDP caucus colleagues, to remove the interest on student loans and to freeze repayment during the COVID pandemic.
To the government's credit, it did move in that regard, but it had not taken the move that so many student groups and students across the country, as well as the NDP caucus, the member for Burnaby South and I, had been pushing for years: that the government should not be profiting anymore from student loans. This is the debt that students undertake in this country for apprenticeship and student loans to gain the skills that will contribute to a vital economy in this country. The government should not be profiting from that, and it is something the NDP has been pressuring this Parliament and the government on for many years. We have finally achieved it, and the interest on the federal portion of student and apprenticeship loans will be eliminated. That is a welcome action, subject to the NDP pushing this consistently and constantly in Parliament.
Also, the government finally took action on what has been a profound loss on behalf of Canadians, and that is the massive amounts of money made by large corporations and the ultrarich in Canada that is taken overseas. The member for Burnaby South, who is our leader, and the NDP caucus have been calling for years for the government to put in place fair tax rules so that everybody pays their fair share. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that it was $25 billion a year under the former Harper government and is now over $30 billion a year. That is money that could be spent on so many other things, but instead it goes to overseas tax havens and tax loopholes.
For Shay, Andrei and their parents, imagine the investments we could make to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. Instead of having $30 billion going offshore, we could have substantial investments in our health care system and in research. This would make a big difference in finding a cure. It would make a big difference in the quality of our health care system. It is $30 billion that is lost, and this is a minimum. As we know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which always admits there is a certain margin, the conservative figure, meaning a modest underestimate of the final amount of money that goes to overseas tax havens and tax loopholes, is now over $30 billion a year.
Given that context, what would the government do? Would the government step up and curb that? The member for Burnaby South called for an excess profits tax, such as we had in the Second World War. During COVID, this was something the NDP repeatedly raised. In the Second World War, at the height of crisis, an excess profits tax was put in place that allowed companies that were benefiting from increased profits to pay their fair share in contributing to the war effort.
As a result of that, Canadians were able to play such an important role in bringing an end to the massive hatred and genocide that was engendered by Nazism and fascism in Europe. That was absolutely fundamental.
The NDP have called for an excess profits tax. The NDP have called for a windfall profits tax, as we have seen oil and gas companies making windfall profits. The big grocery giant chains have been making windfall profits with inflation, raising their prices far beyond, which has engendered the term “greedflation”. That is a result of the fact that we have companies now profiting from inflation by jacking up their prices even more than what the inflation figures would actually justify. That greedflation has promoted and forced incredible hardship on Canadian families from coast to coast to coast.
We called for an excess profits tax. We called for a windfall profits tax. Ultimately, Liberals stepped up in this fall economic statement. They stepped up. Again, the figure is over $30 billion a year. Given the hardship that Canadians are facing and the importance of putting in place investments that will make a difference in their lives, in this corner of the House, the NDP have been fighting hard.
We have succeeded in getting dental care in place, and we know now that families will be able to pay for their children's dental work for kids 12 and under. Next year it will be youth 18 and under, seniors and people with disabilities. We forced a rental supplement that will be paid out to well over a million Canadians who are struggling to pay for their rent right now, and we forced a doubling of the GST to make sure that over 12 million Canadians who have lower incomes will actually have the wherewithal to put food on the table. These are all things that we forced.
We believe that our role is to continue to push Parliament and the government to provide supports to Canadians who are really struggling at this tough time. To do that, we need to make sure we close the loopholes and stop the hemorrhaging of tax dollars by big corporations and the ultrarich's overseas tax havens. As I mentioned, the figure is $30 billion.
I am asking a rhetorical question, but what percentage would colleagues think a responsible government, in a time of crisis, would actually start to curb that hemorrhaging of money to overseas tax havens, those windfall profits, those excess profits? What percentage would it be?
Mr. Speaker, if it were you or I running our household expenditures, I do not think we would be talking in the single digits. I think we would be talking about the idea that we all need to contribute, at this critical time, to the effort to provide Canadians with supports, including those for seniors and people with disabilities. The disability benefit and all of those things need to be put in place. At $30 billion, one would want to take a substantial proportion of that because that is money that could be helping Canadians but is being taken from Canadians and taken overseas.
Did the government take 20%? No, it did not. Did it take 15%? No, it did not. Did it take even 10%? That would be a very modest amount of money, which should be paid into public coffers to help all of us, the commonwealth in this country.
The fact is that Canadians pay their taxes assiduously, honestly, with integrity every year. Small businesses file their tax returns. People with disabilities file their tax returns. Families file their tax returns. People file their tax returns. They pay their fair share to provide that support that all Canadians can hopefully benefit from. Big corporations and the ultrarich do not do this.
One would think that 10% would be a relatively small amount but the government did not even go there. It did not go to 9%, 8%, 7%, 6% or even 5%, 4% or 3%. The sum total of the government's attempt to curb massive overseas tax evasion, windfall profits by the banks and big corporations, is a tax that will bring in about 2% of that amount. It applies to banks and life insurance groups, and that is it. It is 2%.
There is a real problem with Bill C-32. Yes, there is the NDP influence. New Democrats pushed proposals that would make a difference in the lives of Canadian students, and there are the other elements that we brought to bear over the course of the last few weeks, including the doubling of the GST credit, ensuring dental care and ensuring rental supports. All of those things do make a difference.
However, above all, this fall economic statement is a lost opportunity. It is a lost opportunity for Shay and Andrei and all of those activists in Kids for a Cure, who are looking for support for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It is a lost opportunity for those seniors who are struggling to make ends meet and really need support for an increase in their pensions. It is a lost opportunity when we compare, as far as student loans are concerned, the significant measures taken by the Biden administration in the United States to what we see here. Eliminating interest is an important NDP initiative, but it falls far short of what is actually needed.
Last spring, in the budget, the NDP forced significant investments in housing so that they start to build the housing required to make sure that every Canadian has a roof over their head at night and has that right to housing, and we are going to see the product of that in the coming year or two. However, we still have a long way to go. This fall economic statement is, again, a lost opportunity because there is not that increase in investments that could have made such a difference.
It is a lost opportunity when it comes to taking the GST off home heating. Members will recall that just a few weeks ago, on a Conservative opposition day, we proposed an amendment that would have taken the GST off of home heating. To the surprise of all of us, because in 2019 the Conservatives campaigned on taking the GST off home heating, when the NDP made that proposal for the amendment, they said no, which kind of flies in the face of it. When they make commitments on the campaign trail, they should keep them in the House of Commons. The Conservatives chose not to keep that commitment in the House of Commons. Therefore, this was another lost opportunity in the fall economic statement.
Above all, the issue of tax fairness in this country is becoming a huge and growing problem. We have needs to be met. We have an infrastructure deficit. We have Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet. We really need to have a tax system that ensures that everybody pays their fair share. We know that regular families do. We know that seniors do. We know that people with disabilities do and students do. They file their tax returns. They pay what they owe. We grumble sometimes when we do that, but we understand that there is something better and that is why we make those contributions.
We want to build a better country. We want a country where everybody can benefit and where nobody is left behind. We want to build a country where there is housing for everybody.
The member of Parliament for Nunavut has been an incredible campaigner and incredibly outspoken on the dearth of housing in Nunavut and the housing crisis up there. For a fraction of that $30 billion that goes offshore every year, we could be providing supports so that the people of Nunavut actually get the housing they deserve. These would be supports for housing for people right across the country and indigenous-led housing developments right across the country because, in so many first nations communities, housing is simply not there. We can provide housing for everybody in this country.
We can provide supports for everybody, including a disability benefit, which the NDP campaigned on. We continue to push the government to actually establish that benefit, and not just talk about but put in place, so it starts helping people today, including people with disabilities.
As members know, as we have seen the growing food bank lineups across the country, more than half of those people who are lining up are people with disabilities. We can provide those benefits now with tax fairness. We have the wherewithal to make those investments in housing and to make those investments to ensure that people get a basic level of income to allow them to live in dignity. We can provide the supports for our health care system so that we can ensure we are moving to an even better health care system.
The architect of our health care system, Tommy Douglas, always believed that it was the funding that was so essential. What we have seen under previous governments, both Conservative and now the current Liberal government, is an erosion of that funding, which has led to a deterioration of our public health care system, an institution that Canadians hold dear. We have to make sure that we are reinvesting in health care, and that includes reinvesting in research, which brings me back to Shay Larkin and Andrei Marti, who are here on the Hill to talk about more money for research to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
There are many other advocates who come to the Hill who need funding, and sometimes remarkably small amounts compared with the $30 billion that we blow away every year to overseas tax havens to help the ultrarich and big corporations increase their profits. However, often for a very small fraction of that money, we could have breakthrough cures for a whole range of diseases.
We can do that in this country. We should be able to do that in this country. We should be able to provide the funding to renew our infrastructure across the country. We should be able to find the funding to ensure that we can provide post-secondary education and apprenticeship training in the whole range of areas where we have skills shortages. We should be able to do all of those things, but that starts with tax fairness. Other countries have put in place windfall taxes and excess profits taxes. They have closed loopholes. They have ensured that they actually cut off that flow of money out of their country, which is really, in a sense, the theft of taxpayers' money.
The money that we keep as a commonwealth, that we put together collectively to ensure the health and well-being of all of our citizens, should be used properly. It is not supposed to be on a beach in the Bahamas. That money is supposed to be helping that senior in Smithers, British Columbia. That money is supposed to be helping in Iqaluit with the dearth of affordable housing that we have. It is supposed to be funding the Nanaimo infrastructure that we are seeing. It is supposed to be funding, in New Westminster—Burnaby, supports for the Royal Columbian Hospital and Douglas College. These are all the things we can achieve when we have fair taxes.
Are there good things in the fall economic statement? Yes, and the NDP is proud to have pushed for those things and succeeded in getting them. However, does this fall economic statement fall short of what is needed? Absolutely, and there is a need for tax fairness that goes far beyond taking 2% of what is going to overseas tax havens. We can do that. One day there will be an NDP government in this country. When there is, we will see the kind of fair tax system that can make such a difference for all Canadians.